The restaurant: Salaam Namaste, 68 Millman St, London WC1N 3EF
Salaam Namaste is a contemporary Indian restaurant a short walk from Russell Square station. It’s headed by chef and patron Sabbir Karim, who also owns sister restaurant Namaaste Kitchen in Camden. It’s met with mixed reviews online, but a sterling Guardian review from Matthew Norman ten years ago is still sending customers to sample Salaam Namaste. We arrived feeling ambivalent. It was a Wednesday evening and the place was half full. There’s outdoor seating on the terrace and inside the decor is warming — mustard coloured with dim lighting.
The restaurant specialises in Indian and Pakistani cuisine and, according to the website, offers “traditional favourites with the new wave of exciting flavours and innovative ideas”. Manglorean soft shell crab, peri peri king prawns with spiced pineapple chutney, and Pudina lamb chops demonstrate a good variety in starter choices. We picked scallops three ways (coriander & lime, coastal coconut and tomato & lime leaf) that were served up brilliantly in three ramekins, dressed with their respective red, green and orange sauces. Sadly they were overcooked and, for us, the sauces fell a little flat. Pan seared venison kofta was meaty and flavoursome, especially when complemented by the asparagus, though also could have been pan seared for a shorter time. Poppadoms and chutneys arrived mid-way through our starter, which felt odd, as we’ve become accustomed to having them prior. Nonetheless, the onion chutney was delicious.
Goan style sea-bass with curry leaf, mustard seed, onions, tomato & coconut was a generous serving of mildly spiced fish. It’s pleasantly heavy on the coconut and very flavoursome. Seafood moilee, a coconut prawn, scallop and sea-bass curry, and crab balchao, a spicy tomato-based dish, also stand out on the menu. Salaam Namaste know a thing or two about seafood. The usual suspects, or traditional curries, have their own page in the menu. Chicken tikka bhuna, murgh jalfrezi, chicken tikka masala and a range of biryani are there for you to safely fall back on or comfortably indulge in. Gajar ka halwa, a carrot-based dessert, followed at the insistence of our server that we try it. It’s warm and sweet, and simply made from carrots, water, milk and sugar. The coconut ice cream on the side cools it down and rounds it off with a smooth texture — a perfect after-dinner sweetener.
Salaam Namaste is a friendly, casual place to enjoy Indian and Pakistani cuisine in the central London. The fish dishes are imaginative and flavoursome, but if you fancy a classic, order a classic.
To book, visit Salaam-Namaste.co.uk or call 020 7405 3697
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